Mon, 25 Jul 2022 09:12 AM IST
Rishi Sunak, who is the front-runner to become the United Kingdom's next Prime Minister, on Sunday promised to take a tough stand on China if he is sworn in as next British premier as he referred to the Asian giant as the "number one threat" to domestic and global security.
This comes after his rival Liz Truss accused him of not being tough on Russia and China. Meanwhile, China's state-run Global Times has previously said Sunak was the only candidate in the contest with "a clear and pragmatic view on developing UK-China ties".
The former finance minister's proposals include the closure of all 30 Confucius Institutes in Britain, putting a stop to the soft power spread of Chinese influence through culture and language programmes. He would also study the case for banning Chinese acquisitions of key British assets, including strategically sensitive tech firms.
Sunak claimed that China was "stealing our technology and infiltrating our universities" at home, "propping up" Vladimir Putin abroad by buying Russian oil, as well as attempting to bully neighbours including Taiwan.
He criticised China's global "belt and road" scheme for "saddling developing countries with insurmountable debt". "They torture, detain and indoctrinate their own people, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, in contravention of their human rights. And they have continually rigged the global economy in their favour by suppressing their currency," he said.
"Enough is enough. For too long, politicians in Britain and across the West have rolled out the red carpet and turned a blind eye to China's nefarious activity and ambitions. "I will change this on Day 1 as PM," he added.
Meanwhile, Truss has also urged a tougher approach and called for the G7 to become an "economic NATO" against Chinese threats, and warned Beijing of sanctions if they did not play by international rules.
However, the British government policy warned about China earlier too, when both Sunak and Truss were in Johnson's cabinet.
Earlier in March 2021, the government's integrated review of security, defence, and foreign policy called China "the biggest state-based threat to the UK's economic security".